Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael In Austria, Part V

Austria’s Pride & Joy: These terrassen, or “terraced” vineyards famous in the Wachau are farmed by Lagler, and are located a stone’s throw from the Danube. Wachau is also the only wine region in Austria to have its own wine classification system, in addition to the national classification rules. The Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus divides Wachau wine into 3 qualitative categories: Steinfeder indicates basic quality and at least 10.7% alcohol, while Federspiel guarantees at least 11.5% alcohol and is roughly on par with Germany’s Kabinett. Smaragd, named after the emerald-colored lizard that dwells in the Wachau vineyards, is evidence of top-quality, exhibiting at least 12% alcohol and less than 9 grams per litre of residual sugar. Often, the Smaragd-level wines of the Wachau are amongst the best Austria has to offer.

Getting Cozy in the Wachau: I spent the night at this charming estate in the village of Spitz of the Wachau region. It is centered on the property of Weingut Lagler, where the Lagler family has lived for 200 years. Karl Lagler tends old Gruner Veltliner, Riesling and Neuberger vines and creates some of the most world-renown wines of the Wachau. Amongst all of his cru wines, the centerpiece is the great multi-vineyard Gruner Veltliner Elisabeth, of which I sampled the ‘06. Harvested by 8 women named Elisabeth, this stone fruit and wet stone-laden Gruner is dry but potent and thick, and will probably mature for 30 years. - Michael Koehler -

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